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10 minutes with Tony Hawk
01.06.2015
09:37 am

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Nixon
Tony Hawk


 
Tony Hawk is synonymous with skateboarding, a living, breathing human trademark for his sport. An icon, he’s also a brand, running a business empire with tentacles in video games, amusement park rides, action sports exhibitions and his new YouTube channel, RIDE, which features Hawk himself in “Tony’s Strange Life.” He’s also known for his philanthropic activities, helping to build skateparks in low-income areas with his Tony Hawk Foundation, which has given away more than $3.4 million to help construct over 400 parks around the US.

We sat with Tony Hawk and asked a few questions about where he’s been and where he’s going next.

I’ve read that you were a really hyperactive child and that discovering skating helped you burn off that excessive energy. Is this why it’s so important for your charity to build skateparks in needy communities? So that other kids might find that same kind of focus you found through skating?

Tony Hawk: Yes, but it’s also important to me because I grew up near one of the last remaining skatepark of the ‘80s and I only realized later how lucky I was. It was a huge part of my life and gave me the opportunity to practice my passion, while spending time and sharing ideas with other skaters. I want to help provide the same type of opportunities and facilities for youth in difficult areas.

How do you tame that same hyperactivity today as one of the most successful entrepreneurs in sports? What keeps you centered and on target at this stage of your life?

My kids. Keeping up with them while trying to manage a career in skateboarding is a constant challenge. But I enjoy the challenges that being an “elder” skater and entrepreneur provide. It’s a whole new era of skateboarding and I am living the dream.

Sponsorships are obviously a large part of the business of Tony Hawk and you’ve always had A-list companies behind you. Tell me about some of those relationships. For example, you’ve worked with Nixon for a long time. How did that come about?

I have always admired Nixon‘s products and marketing, even before I was sponsored by them. I might be the only skater that begged my way onto the team, and I am proud to fly the Nixon flag in all my endeavors; they truly understand our culture. 

What’s the project that’s currently got you the most excited?

My next video game, coming out in late 2015 for newer consoles. It’s already looking on point.

Sponsored by Nixon

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Dollar Shave Club Wants To Shave You Time & Money
11.14.2014
06:40 am

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Dollar Shave Club


Brought to you by Dollar Shave Club

Think of all the other things you could be doing instead of wasting time at the store buying overpriced razors. You could learn a new language. You could bake a cake. Or you could finally finish that novel you’ve been working on.

Don’t worry, Dollar Shave Club has you covered. They deliver amazing razors for just a few dollars. They’ve just released four hilarious new commercials, which will soon be all over your television. The commercials showcase the frustrating and primitive experience that is buying overpriced razors at the store.

If you’re not one of the million members of Dollar Shave Club that benefit from never having to step inside a store to buy razors, these spots should definitely hit home. 

Upgrade to the smarter way to shave. Get amazing razors delivered to your door for just a few bucks. Try the Club.
 

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Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey: The Accidental Undertaker
10.30.2014
04:15 pm

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Jack Daniel's


 
Tierney manages the New Orleans bar that her grandfather started forty years ago and ran until his death in 2001, but he’s always watching over her, literally from above the bar, where an urn of his ashes rests, as requested in his last will and testament.

But Tierney’s grandfather is not the only one to find his final resting place in her family’s French Quarter saloon, as you will find out in “Accidental Undertaker.”

Tierney’s tale is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey. The website collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at www.talesofwhiskey.com.
 

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Jack Daniel’s Bar Stories: Donna makes eye contact
10.29.2014
07:15 am

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Jack Daniel's


 
They say that “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” but behind the glitz, glamour and sleaze of the Vegas strip (literally right behind it, out of view) there’s the even more lawless underbelly of “Sin City,” that well-worn part of town now often referred to as “Old Vegas.”

It is against this less than glamorous backdrop that we hear Donna’s tale… ¡Eye, caramba!

(Trust me, there is no way, none, that you are expecting the punchline.)

Donna’s outrageous story is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey. The website collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at www.talesofwhiskey.com.
 

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Jack Daniel’s Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey: The Babysitter’s Club
10.27.2014
12:06 pm

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Jack Daniel's


 
We’ve all had a “shaggy dog story” inflicted upon us by a convivial stranger in a bar. You know, the sort of tale with a long windup, lots and lots of detail and then an improbable, or even completely and utterly pointless ending.

In “The Babysitter’s Club,” another installment of Jack Daniel’s The Few & Far Between: Tales of Mischief, Revelry, and Whiskey, we hear Jimmy Sweetwater’s shaggy duck story and learn the lesson that when easy money just seems too easy, there’s usually a catch. And if walks like a duck and talks like a duck... well, let’s Jimmy explain.

Jimmy’s story is part of Jack Daniel’s sprawling new interactive project which collects fantastic, often bust-a-gut funny anecdotes and strangely poetic, colorful stories that have taken place in America’s favorite watering holes, saloons and dive bars.

Jack Daniel’s is partnering with VICE to promote a photo contest. The winning image of an American bar will be featured in a future Jack Daniel’s ad in an upcoming issue of VICE magazine. More information at www.talesofwhiskey.com.
 

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Title Shots: Luke Rockhold
09.30.2014
02:08 pm

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Luke Rockhold
 
In this episode of “Moving Portraits: Title Shots,” we travel to Santa Cruz to learn how a lifetime of surfing and skating has shaped middleweight Luke Rockhold’s fighting style.

If you’ve ever spent any time in a California coastal town, you’ve probably noticed dozens of people heading for the beach to surf every morning at sunrise. It’s like they have to be there. Ever known a surfer who you wouldn’t describe as an adrenaline junkie? The thrill that comes from riding the breaks seems mighty addictive.

Surfing is the ultimate man against nature sport. The ultimate man against man sport—at least that which doesn’t involve actual weaponry—is mixed martial arts and Luke Rockhold, has mastered both. He’s also a skater and believes that it is his agility on the waves and on his deck informs his fighting style and stance.

Rockhold grew up surfing in Santa Cruz with his father and older brother pro surfer Matt “Rocky” Rockhold (long the face of Rip Curl). The waves there spawn the world’s best surfers, but as he mentions in the video below, Santa Cruz may appear to be a sleepy idyllic place, but it’s a fairly hard town, especially the beaches which can get very territorial between groups of surfers.

Luke Rockhold seems to have channeled his need for that adrenaline rush with his professional aspirations. As he admits in the portrait below, he was a wild and crazy, aggressive violent kid. Today the former Strikeforce Champion is #5 in the official Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight rankings.

On November 8th, Rockhold will be battling it out with British MMA fighter Michael Bisping at UFC’s UFC Fight Night 55 at the Allphones Arena in Sydney, Australia. If their hilariously shit-talking press conference is any indication, it ought to be a doozy!
 

 
Sponsored by Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

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Win a signed Santana guitar from Sony Music Latin
09.24.2014
06:04 am

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Carlos Santana


 
For five decades Carlos Santana has been considered one of the world’s greatest guitarists, possessing a distinctly clear tone that is as unique as a human voice. In recognition of National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) Sony Music Latin is sponsoring a contest to win a signed guitar from the man himself.

Aspiring guitarists and fans alike, enter your email to win the signed guitar below and get signed up to receive news from top Latin artists as well.
 

 

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The Physically Alive Architecture of Paul Laffoley
08.12.2014
09:00 am

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The work of Boston-based visionary artist and architect Paul Laffoley has been exhibited extensively in recent years including major museum shows in London, Paris, Berlin and Seattle. His oeuvre is informed by fringe science, a degree in architecture from Harvard and the occult. In 2009 Laffoley was awarded a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Creative Arts.  Next year an extensive catalogue raisonné of his art is set to be published.

Paul Laffoley’s work can be categorized into several different strands: His architectural pieces which are comparable to schematics or blueprints; his inventions of apparently far out sci-fi devices (keep in mind that every single thing Jules Verne dreamed up eventually came to pass); his plans for a working time machine and for a “living” plant house that would be grown from a single seed.

The artist claims that his “Das Urpflanze Haus” will help solve the worldwide housing crisis.
 

 
How did the idea of physically alive architecture first occur to you?

I don’t… I don’t recall… (pauses) I was thinking of how to make a link all the way from Earth to the Moon and I realized that it would have to be something which was self-repairing. Something like that would always be getting hit by asteroids and space debris, so only something alive could self-repair if you were gonna do that. Fixing it would just be too impractical.

Vegetation connects to itself and grafts to its own kind. That’s how vegetables survive, by sending out rhizomes in times of danger and becoming a single plant. The German poet Goethe was fascinated by the idea that there existed an ur-plant that could connect, or graft, all of the plants on Earth together as one big worldwide plant, but he never found it. The name “Das Urpflanze Haus” is a tribute to him. But the primordial plant, something that’s been around since the Jurassic period, is Gingko Biloba—kept alive by monks in their gardens—which has DNA common to every plant living today. The link to the Moon would be constructed from shapes like Buckminster Fuller’s spheres, but they would have to be alive, to be plants. They would have to be grafted together. There would, of course, also have to be a water source.

And then I started thinking that if something like that is going to be built to go to the moon, what could we do on Earth, and that’s where the idea came from. You might use bamboo in some parts of the home, for tensile strength—think of the plants as building materials—and a different kind of plant to thatch the roof, but they would all be joined—grafted together—and have a common root system. After you would make the first vegetable house, it would go to seed and then you could grow more.

Didn’t you run this concept past Buckminster Fuller himself at some point? What was his reaction?

Yes (laughs). It was 1980 and I was a member of the World Future Society. We went to Florence and I did a presentation on this that got absolutely no reaction. I couldn’t sleep and I went down to the hotel lobby and there was Fuller, who couldn’t sleep either and so I presented him with my idea to build a link to the Moon and I asked “Don’t you think this should be a living creature and not a mechanical model?” and he agreed, but eventually I must’ve cured his insomnia because he fell asleep right there in the lobby. The next day he avoided me like the plague!

More after the jump…

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Sinkane’s Jason Trammell on playing the drums and musical craftsmanship
05.06.2014
10:39 am

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Sinkane
drumming


 
North Carolina native Jason Trammell began collecting records when he was a kid, first buying 45s at the local mall before becoming a full-fledged vinyl junkie and obsessive music fan (with the encouragement of his parents). Along the way he also picked up the drums and a keen interest in the mechanics of audio design and film soundtrack work that serves him well in his career as a drummer for Brooklyn-based group Sinkane and as an electronic dance music remixer.

In this short video profile, Trammell shows the camera around his apartment (and part of his floor-buckling record collection) and rehearsal space and he discusses the passionate craftsmanship that goes into creating his music. Tonight in San Francisco at the Warfield and Thursday at the Greek in Los Angeles, you can catch Jason playing live with Sinkane as part of the big David Byrne-led musical celebration, “Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor”
 

 
This sponsored post is brought to you by Ketel One.

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‘Bitches Brew’: Miles runs the voodoo down
04.07.2014
10:52 am

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Music

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Miles Davis
Jazz
Teo Macero


 
Scroll down for a chance to win a Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition or The Beatles in Mono box set from our sponsor, POPMarket

Back in the heyday of Demonoid, some magnificent person, or persons, unleashed an ISO file that had been made from a quadraphonic reel to reel tape of Bitches Brew, the groundbreaking Miles Davis jazz-rock fusion album of 1970.

Quad was a four channel surround sound format the record labels tried out in the 1970s that was ultimately abandoned. For several years you could buy quadraphonic albums, 8-track tapes and reel to reel tapes (the ultimate “Rolls-Royce” audiophile format of the era) that decoded to four speakers. It was similar enough to today’s 5.1 home theatre systems except that today’s 5.1 music is mixed with an assumption of a front facing listener, whereas with quad it was four speakers and you were more or less in the middle of it. No front or back orientation. It was as if you were standing in the room when it was recorded. Not in the booth, with the band. Popular quad titles included Black Sabbath’s Paranoid (Imagine the sound effects of “Iron Man” swirling around you) and The Best of The Doors which included a live version of “Who Do You Love?” not released in another format and a mix of “Hello I Love You” a 360 degree flanging sound effect. Gimmicky, but very cool. Quad was marketed as “music for people with four ears.”

But back to Bitches Brew. Every serious music fan would have to have at least some familiarity with this album. It’s justifiably included in every single “top 500” of all time lists and most “top 100” lists as well. It is in the top ten best-selling jazz album of all time, too. I’m not going to “review” an album that’s been a well-established cornerstone of 20th century music, but I will say that hearing the performances on Bitches Brew in surround sound is an incredible revelation, almost like hearing it for the first time.

Here’s why: There is a hell of a lot going on at the same time in Bitches Brew. There were two electric keyboard players. Joe Zawinul was placed in the left channel of the stereo mix and Chick Corea in the right. (They’re joined b the great Larry Young on a third electric piano in “Pharoah’s Dance”!) There were two drummers, 19-year-old Lenny White’s kit is heard in the left channel and Jack DeJohnette is on the right. You had both Don Alias and Juma Santos (credited as “Jim Riley”) on congas and other percussion. Dave Holland played floor bass while Harvey Brooks played electric bass.

And then you still had Miles’ trumpet, Wayne Shorter’s sax, Bennie Maupin’s bass clarinet and John McLaughlin on guitar! This is a very “crowded” thing for two speakers to accurately reproduce, but the quad mix opens all of this up into a considerably wider sonic vista and gives the listener a very, very good spatial sense of who was standing where when the recordings were made and even how big the studio was. It’s probably as close as you can get to being in a room with Miles Davis playing his trumpet, like an audio hologram.
 

 
The album was recorded live on eight tracks over the course of three sessions (August 19-21, 1969) in New York and then extensively, even radically, manipulated in post production by producer and longtime Davis collaborator Teo Macero. Ray Moore (mixing and editing engineer) quoted by Paul Tingen, author of the fascinating book Miles Beyond: Electric Explorations of Miles Davis, 1967-1991 gives some insight into the recording:

Like In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew was recorded live on 8-track tape, which meant you had a lot of spill. Engineer Stan Tonkel complained to me that Miles wanted John McLaughlin right next to him, which meant there was a lot of trumpet on the guitar track. You had the good and the bad together on all the tracks, and a lot of information that you didn’t really want, which meant that we had to work hard on the mixing. Teo decided where the edits would be, and I executed them for him. Some of the edits were done on the original 8-track, others on the 2-track mix. The edits could be for musical, or for technical reasons, for example to correct levels. We also added effects to the mix, such as the repeat echo on Miles’s trumpet [which can be heard at the beginning of “Bitches Brew” and at 8:41 in “Pharaoh’s Dance”]. When I was working with Teo in the early 1990s on a recording of a performance by Miles in Newport in July 1969, I was surprised to hear that Miles was actually playing an effect like that. So he and Teo must have been talking about this effect before the recording of Bitches Brew.

The sessions included Davis compositions that had been developed live by the band, “Pharaoh’s Dance,” composed by Joe Zawinul and the Wayne Shorter ballad “Sanctuary.” Macero then worked his magic utilizing tape loops, delay, reverb chambers and echo effects. Macero’s contributions to Bitches Brew are well-documented. He would lift a few inspired bars from one thing and graft it on to another section, or repeat something in order to give the improvisations a structure that listeners would recognize as “songs.” It was an unprecedented way to work in a studio at that time.

Why Sony has never put the quad Bitches Brew out on a legitimate release baffles me, it’s not like they don’t do a new Bitches Brew release every few years. Maybe they don’t even realize it’s in their vaults? Who knows? Sony did do jazz fans and historians a favor when they put out a fascinating box set of the sessions that followed the August 1969 Bitches Brew recording with the somewhat confusingly titled The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions. It’s not the raw material recorded before Macero worked his magic on the tapes, as you might expect but rather the best of the material recorded with (basically) these same musicians in the months afterwards. Come the following year Miles would dump the multiple keyboard line-up and go with a more guitar-heavy jazz rock sound. There’s also the Bitches Brew: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition that came out in 2010 that features the 1988 remastered version of the album (which was always considered notoriously “murky” sounding), a vinyl replica of the original 2-record set gatefold sleeve by Mati Klarwein and a DVD of a stellar live set of the Miles Davis Quintet filmed in Copenhagen, in November 1969, just weeks after Bitches Brew was laid down.

In the video below, Teo Macero reveals his trade secrets of working on Bitches Brew, how he supported Miles Davis creatively and does the single best Miles impression you’ll ever hear:

 

Smoking hot live version of “Spanish Key” performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970

This post was sponsored by POPMarket.
 

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